Biosecurity: a must for rural and emerging commercial poultry farmers

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) defines biosecurity as a set of management and physical measures designed to reduce the risk of introduction, establishment and spread of animal diseases, infections or infestations to, from and within an animal population. The growing importance of poultry in developing countries and the emergence of new zoonotic pathogens, like Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), has highlighted the importance and the need to implement biosecurity measures in backyard and rural poultry farms to minimise human health risks and economic losses.

Poor management practices and absence of disease control strategies often result in high levels of mortality due to predators or infectious diseases. Diseases such as Newcastle Disease (ND), Salmonellosis, Gumboro disease or Fowl typhoid, continue to erode the productivity of rural poultry farmers, depriving them of an important protein source.

Although there is no single biosecurity plan suitable or applicable to all farms, a plan for each farm must include measures and steps implemented in mitigation of identified risks, and broadly include isolation, traffic control and sanitation.  It should aim to minimize or prevent introduction of disease-causing agents and protect animals from predators and vermin infestation.

Potential disease sources include, but are not limited to; people, equipment, supplies, vehicles, wild animals, pets, feed, water supplies, dropping and manure. Some preventive measures are, for example, to build suitable housing and physical barriers (fences), control and restriction of people movement, or cleaning and sanitation (including disinfecting poultry houses, people and equipment and foot bath). These controls could go a long way to reduce the risk of introduction, establishment and spread of animal diseases, infections or infestations.

GALVmed has partnered with LAPROVET in Senegal in a project that amongst others, aims to promote prophylaxis practices and biosecurity measures to retailers and farmers. Participating farms and farmers are initially audited to establish a baseline and to identify potential risks. A prophylactic (vaccination) and biosecurity plan is drawn and the farm re-audited every 6 months to ensure compliance and measure improvements. In addition, field trainings to promote prophylaxis practices and biosecurity measures are conducted for veterinarians and farmers. The project has also produced an educational video on biosecurity.  

Biosecurity is often a standard practice in commercial farms, however, the sustainable implementation in rural and emerging commercial farms requires raising farmers’ awareness and knowledge regarding these measures.

Written by Thembinkosi Ramuthivheli, Senior Manager, Commercial Development in Africa

Demand aggregation: The key to reaching small-scale livestock producers

Majority of the animal production in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa is scattered. They have traditionally been operated by millions of small-scale producers (SSPs). The number of animals kept by SSPs are few – ranging from one to hundreds. Many of these animals die due to preventable infectious diseases before attaining maturity and those entering productive and reproductive age produce less due to compromised animal health care. Availability of animal health products in SSPs areas is inadequate, greatly affecting the livelihood of SSPs.

Despite the small-scale livestock production supporting the livelihoods of 600 million smallholder farmers in the developing world, animal health product companies have not been able to fully tap into the SSPs market preferring to do business with the small commercial animal production market. Any mechanism to open up and fully take advantage of the SSPs animal health market can help animal health companies grow their business many folds, leading to higher levels of animal health product use and enhanced productivity. This will in turn lead to higher investment in animal health.

In regions where GALVmed is actively working with animal health companies to facilitate availability of animal health products to SSPs, one of the challenges realized from the beginning was the low demand of animal health products due to scattered nature of animal keeping by SSPs. This increased the cost of distribution for the companies and less interest in the SSPs market segment. However, there are innovative ways animal health companies can access the SSPs market reliably.  One example is through engaging with dairy cooperatives which connect these companies to a large number of SSPs and offer them a demand for animal products in an appreciable volume. Women organized in self-help groups is another example through which demand is aggregated to attract the companies. Such examples of demand aggregation indicate a very potentially viable market platform that can benefit both animal health companies and SSPs.

Demand aggregation for animal health products can use different forms of input /output driven or other purpose platforms but it should be able to attract SSPs, veterinary service providers, and animal health companies.  Working with a women self-help group in one of GALVmed’s project areas in India has been instrumental in the uptake of Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) vaccine. The project trained a woman vaccinator to work with the self-help group and the demand for the vaccine from the local veterinary retail shop has significantly increased. Companies that were not selling vaccines through such outlets previously have now recognized this opportunity for their business expansion.

Currently there is a red ocean type of competition among animal health companies to penetrate commercially operating markets like poultry and dairy. But there exist vast and never reached or very less reached blue ocean of SSPs market segment. Such SSPs market can also be lucrative if the demand is aggregated through an appropriate platform. Demand aggregation can lead to entry into a market not served before. SSPs can get the same level of animal health input as commercial animal farming.

Written by Peetambar Kushwaha, Senior Manager, Commercial Development, Asia